Simon Bell talks to GRASS ROOTS about the origins of the Cliftonville Coastal Project (CCP).
During the summer of 2020 Thanet District Council (TDC) asked local people to put forward ideas for capital improvement projects that could be submitted to government as part of a £25 million Margate Town Deal investment plan.
How did the Cliftonville Coastal Project come about?
Almost every day I walk past deteriorating coastal structures that that were once part Cliftonville’s thriving tourist industry, and I thought it would be a wonderful idea to feature them all in one umbrella project to illustrate just how many amazing assets there are in our part of town.
And how did you go about that?
I basically went out one morning and photographed every publicly owned asset along the Cliftonville West coastline. I then collated the images into a presentation, set up a group on Facebook, and asked local people and community groups to put forward their own ideas for each asset. The response was phenomenal.
How many project ideas did you receive?
We received fifteen proposals, which were incorporated into the CCP framework document (see slideshow below), and then in August 2020 each sponsor formally submitted their idea to TDC. A sifting process was undertaken by the Town Deal Board, and ten of the Cliftonville based projects were shortlisted for further development in collaboration with the Town Investment Plan (TIP) consultants.
How did you find the engagement process?
We were initially quite suspicious of the process as we were concerned that Cliftonville projects would be side-lined in favour of other areas, but our fears were totally unfounded. The TIP consultants were incredibly receptive to our ideas, and even incorporated our ‘From Beach to High Street’ project as part of their ‘Public Realm & Connections’ strategy for Northdown Road.
What are your hopes for the future of the Margate Town Deal in Cliftonville?
As a result of our incredible team effort over £8 million in Town Deal funds have been earmarked for Cliftonville West in the Town Investment Plan document! We hope to hear some good news from government soon, so TDC is restarting the engagement process to make sure we can hit the ground running and prepare a robust project delivery plan. We hope the Cliftonville projects will be part of the first tranche of proposals to be developed by TDC, as there are lots of determined people who want to help bring these amazing community assets back to life.
Project Proposals for Cliftonville
From Beach to High Street by the Cliftonville Coastal Project (CCP) – Our masterplan shows how the Cliftonville coastline, with some simple interventions, could help regenerate Northdown Road by encouraging the thousands of visitors who enjoy the Viking Coastal Trail to use our local businesses. This could include new way-finding signage, improved pavements, more urban trees & planting, and better road markings for cyclists.
The Oval Bandstand & Lawns by GRASS Cliftonville CIC – GRASS will provide facilities that are multipurpose, popular, and open & accessible to everyone in the local community, as well as visitors to the area. GRASS proposes to invest in the regeneration of The Oval Bandstand & Lawns and provide facilities that will unlock even more useful services for all to enjoy.
Walpole Bay (Cliff) Lift by ABC & Walpole Bay Lift Volunteer Group – The project aims to refurbish and reopen the Grade II listed Walpole Bay Lift so that less mobile residents can access the beach. We also intend to re-purpose the rotunda and picnic area and make it an all-year-round community resource with a café, public toilets, etc. This community run asset could help fund the lift and ensure there is always someone on hand.
Walpole Bay Tidal Pool & Lower Promenades by Walpole Bay Swimmers & Simon Bell – This project aims to bring much needed welfare facilities to the unique 4-acre Grade II listed Walpole Bay Tidal Pool, which has become increasingly popular in recent years. The new ‘social enterprise’ facilities will include toilets, showers, lockers, disabled pool access, a lifeguard station, and a café. The proposals for both lower promenades include community run beach huts, an information point, shared work/exhibition spaces, and further welfare facilities.
Upper Promenade Kiosks by Simon Bell – This project aims to reinstate kiosks along the Queen’s Promenade, providing multiple points for visitor rest stops selling refreshments. This project will also support Margate’s economy by providing new business opportunities.